Bob Arum: Crawford, Walters tentative for March 21 doubleheader
RING lightweight champion Terence Crawford and RING No. 2-rated WBA featherweight titleholder Nicholas Walters could fight in separate bouts in a doubleheader at the Theater in Madison Square Garden on March 21, according to Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum.
Crawford (25-0, 17 knockouts) is being considered for a shot at the vacant WBO junior welterweight belt against RING No. 3-rated 140-pounder Chris Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs), Arum confirmed to RingTV.com on Wednesday.
“We’re negotiating that fight now,” said Arum on Thursday.
The co-feature could involve Walters (25-0, 21 KOs), who has stopped 11 of his past 12 opponents dating back to April 2010 and was named “Jamaican Sportsman of the Year” at the 54th RJR Sports Foundation National Awards earlier this month.
A Jamaican-born fighter who lives and trains in Panama City, Panama, Walters could face Puerto Rico’s Gamalier Rodriguez, who is 17-0-1 with 13 knockouts since falling by unanimous decision to David Rodela in his 12th bout in August 2009.
“We’ve agreed in principle and that’s who we’re considering is Gamalier Rodriguez,” said Rob Mittleman, Walters’ adviser. “We’re anxious to fight in New York, which is the capitol of boxing. We would love to fight at the Garden. There are a lot of Jamaicans in New York.”
Arum said that popular fighters such as Puerto Rican lightweight Felix Verdejo and Long Beach, N.Y., light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan are also being considered for the card. Verdejo, 21, is 3-0 with as many first-round knockouts at the Garden and Monaghan, 5-0 with three stoppages at the venue.
“It gives Crawford and Walters exposure in the biggest media market in the country and that’s New York, which is always good,” said Arum. “We’re probably going to have Felix Verdejo on the card as well as Seanie Monaghan and we’ll sell out the Theater.”
After winning the WBO junior welterweight title from Ruslan Provodnikov by split decision last June, Algieri, 30, was stripped of the belt for facing WBO welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao, who won by grossly lopsided unanimous decision victory last November.
A resident of Huntington, N.Y. Algieri initially appealed to overrule the WBO’s ruling which stripped Algieri “the second he stepped into the ring at the higher weight division,” according to WBO General Secretary Jose Izquierdo. Ultimately, Star Boxing’s Joe DeGuardia agreed to drop the appeal in favor of working out a deal with Arum in accordance with WBO rules that allow Crawford, a lighter beltholder, to rise into the next higher weight and challenge for a vacant title against the organization’s No. 1 contender, Algieri.
“There are discussions going on between both promoters. It’s all preliminary talks and they’re trying to make the fight happen. They’re trying to see if it makes sense. Obviously, Chris is ranked No. 1 and they have dropped the appeal process, so they’re pursuing that opportunity,” said Izquierdo.
“Crawford, as we’ve done before, when a fighter is a WBO champion and he moves up in weight, we extend him the courtesy of being able to fight for the world championship in the new division. So that’s what’s going on, right now. Obviously we would totally sanction that fight. I think that it’s a good fight and it should happen. We’ll see if they come to terms.”
In his last fight in November, Crawford, 27, scored a near-shutout unanimous decision win over Raymundo Beltran at the CenturyLink Arena in Crawford’s native Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford had returned to the site where he scored last June’s come-from-behind, ninth-round stoppage victory over former featherweight beltholder Yuriorkis Gamboa, a previously unbeaten fighter.
Nicknamed “Axe Man,” Walters, 29, is managed by Jacques Deschamps. Walters is coming off the biggest victory of his career and his fifth consecutive stoppage, a sixth-round TKO that dethroned RING No. 6-rated Nonito Donaire as WBA titleholder in October.
Rodriguez, 28, was last in the ring for a second round technical knockout of Martin Issac Gonzales Cardona in October that had followed a unanimous decision over title challenger Orlando Cruz in April.
“Gamalier Rodriguez, who is a tough, tough Puerto Rican fighter,” said Mittleman, “that’s who we’re considering. But we’ll take anybody who comes to fight Nick and anybody who comes to try to knock Nick out. But people don’t give Nicholas credit for his boxing ability because he’s a terrific boxer.”